HCM City seeks faster switch to cashless payment

July 01, 2020 - 08:00

Nguyễn Anh Đức, general director of Saigon Co.op, said the rate of cashless payment at its system, including Co.opmart, Co.opXtra, Co.op Food, and Co.op Smile, has increased sharply since last year from 3-5 per cent to nearly 21 per cent now.


A customer makes payment with MoMo e-wallet at a Co.opmart supermarket in HCM City. — Photo Quang Định

Xuân Hương

HCM CITY — Nguyễn Anh Đức, general director of Saigon Co.op, said the rate of cashless payment at its system, including Co.opmart, Co.opXtra, Co.op Food, and Co.op Smile, has increased sharply since last year from 3-5 per cent to nearly 21 per cent now.

It targets a 30 per cent ratio within four to five years.

Saigon Co.op has been collaborating with other companies to deploy a series of new payment services and applications based on tech platforms that offer more convenience and privileges to customers shopping at its over 800 stores, according to Đức.

Many factors have caused this surge in cashless payment like the impact of communications, which has eliminated the “strangeness” consumers used to feel about cashless payments, and the COVID-19 pandemic, which acted as a catalyst in rapidly increasing the use of cashless methods.

Another important factor has been the improved infrastructure for connecting retailers and payment service providers and legal mechanisms to protect people making cashless payments, and users' increasing trust in the confidentiality and safety of digital payment.

Nguyễn Thanh Thủy, owner of a fashion shop in Nguyễn Văn Lạc Street, in HCM City’s Bình Thạnh District, said, “The number of customers making payments by card and internet banking has increased significantly, especially during the Covid-19 outbreak when nearly 100 per cent of customers resorted to non-cash payments.”

According to the State Bank of Vietnam’s payment department, more and more people pay for daily essentials, air tickets, insurance, and others using cards, e-wallets or internet banking.

In the first four months of the year payment by cards increased by 15.7 per cent year-on-year, internet payments by 45.7 per cent and mobile payments by 166.1 per cent.

Payment trends in the economy have shifted towards non-cash modes, while the rate of electronic payments for public services is increasing.

Trần Vĩnh Tuyến, vice chairman of the city People’s Committee, said, “[Enabling] cashless payment for education and healthcare has yielded positive results.

“Students at about 80 per cent of city schools no longer pay their tuition fees in cash since 400 public schools have started collecting tuition via bank transfer.

“Half of the city’s healthcare services allow patients to pay fees cashlessly.”

“The city is on course to build a smart city, so building a cashless society is among its main goals.”

Nguyễn Minh Tâm, deputy CEO of Sacombank, said his bank began to offer cashless payment for education six years ago.

“Collection of tuition fees online is now done at more than 300 schools, and over 200,000 school smart cards [to pay school fees and others] were issued. Cashless payment at these schools has increased by some 10 times.”

To boost cashless payment in the city, on the occasion of Cashless Day on June 16 the State Bank of Vietnam affixed the “cashless payment” label at Co.opmart Cống Quỳnh in District 1, many stalls at An Đông Market in District 5 and a petrol station belonging to Saigon Fuel JSC on Cách Mạng Tháng Tám Street in District 3.

Sacombank, in co-operation with Visa and Nextpay, has installed mPOS card swipe machines at many booths at An Đông Market and plans to next install machines at other markets in District 5.

Nguyễn Thị Hồng Loan, the manager of the petrol station, said 30 per cent of customers now paid using cards, mainly corporate customers and car owners.

Mỹ, a salesperson at a stall in An Đông Market that sells dried seafood, said, “More and more customers make payment using cards at my stall since it was installed with an mPOS card swipe machine.”

Further boosting cashless payment

The non-cash payment rate has increased in the city, but is still below expectations, according to banks and authorities.

Tuyến said many public facilities had yet to go cashless.

The city would continue to direct departments and agencies to promote non-cash payments for public services, he said.

The city has sent an urgent request to the Ministry of Finance to provide guidance on specific financial mechanisms to allow administrative and non-business organisations to pay service charges to banks and e-wallets.

Many banks said the lack of a fee schedule for public services made it hard for them to offer non-cash payment.

According to Lê Thành Trung, deputy CEO of HDBank, cashless payment is the inevitable trend of the future. Now everything from legal and technical facilities and communication campaigns to promote cashless payment is almost ready, but the ratio of cashless payment is not as high as expected.

“We must somehow make consumers feel it is convenient, beneficial and safe to use non-cash payments. Then they will not return to the old payment method.”

Banks and financial institutions now offer customers advanced payment methods such as contactless and online payment and through mobile banking, according to the CEO. Banks have enhanced security for online payment.

"The most important task now is how to make customers feel cashless payment is the most beneficial method for them," he added. Distributors and intermediary payment providers should run promotion programmes, — VNS